Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Dell Offering "Open" PC 426

Sans writes "Dell began offering a new desktop Dimension E510n PC this week with no operating system installed. The machine is designed for people who want to run open-source software such as Linux instead of Windows. The PC comes with a blank hard drive and a copy of the FreeDOS operating system, which can be installed by customers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dell Offering "Open" PC

Comments Filter:
  • SHENANIGANS! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:31AM (#13721513)

    From TFA:
    Buying a PC without an operating system saves a step and eliminates the cost of the extra software.
    I was curious, so I went to the Dell site and priced out some systems myself to see just how much you save. Here's what I found:

    Dell Dimenson E510n (no OS installed): $774

    IDENTICALLY CONFIGURED Dell Dimension E510 (only difference: comes with Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition installed): $804

    So apparently, a copy of Windows XP Media Center 2005 Edition costs $30.

    I have to say I'm pretty disappointed with Dell....for a second there it looked like they might actually be doing something worthwhile, but upon doing the math, it's obvious they're just milking this whole Linux thing for their own personal gain. I'll continue building my systems from scratch, thanks.
  • FreeDOS... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:31AM (#13721515)
    ... is much more popular than Linux, of course. Seriously, does this mean Microsoft is still pulling strings somewhere at Dell, or what?
  • Re:news? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheViffer ( 128272 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:39AM (#13721587)
    Apparently the original poster failed to mention that 99% of the time the machines that do not come with Windows are generally priced equal to or more then the comparable system with Windows. In addition to that, they generally never come with all the "free" offers Dell gives out with there PC's.

    Right now Dell will see there 380n Precision workstation (no windows) for $1058. But I can go buy the 380 Precision workstation (with windows) for $1058 .. so where is the deal?
  • by sarguin ( 702714 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:43AM (#13721623)
    Open Source PC?? What if I already own a copy of Windows, simply _replace_ my current PC with a new one and use this copy of Windows. I don't want to pay a new copy of Windows each time I _replace_ my PC...

    I can already buy a PC from my local "PC clone" vendor without Windows on it (Windows price removed) , so why is Dell, HP, IBM... can't do it?
  • by LnxAddct ( 679316 ) <> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:45AM (#13721633)
    Yes, actually the law firm I work at has. Excellent support from both Dell and Red Hat.
  • Re:SHENANIGANS! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hands0n ( 878516 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:49AM (#13721674)
    I have a Dell Premier login so I can configure machines for our company, and send the e-quote to our purchasing rep. Dell lists a bunch of "standard configurations" on the first page. If I choose an Optiplex GX 520 MT and configure it, for example, it costs more than if I go under Systems and choose the Optiplex GX 520 MT there. Some comparisons ... moving from the 40GB SATA hard drive to an 80GB SATA II hard drive costs $16.15, and changing to an optical mouse costs $11.90 on the standard configuration GX 520. If I do the same by going under Systems, the hard drive upgrade costs $11.25 and the mouse upgrade costs $10.50. Shenanigans is right!
  • Re:SHENANIGANS! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anubis__ ( 168382 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:53AM (#13721712) Homepage
    Its not just the price of XP Media Center you're taking into consideration there. There are a slew of vendors who pay to have their software and adware preinstalled on a new PC coming from a manufacturer such as Dell - all that crapware figures into the overall equation. If there's no OS, then there's no crapware included.

    I received a Dell XPS last month and it came with no less than 7 media players for playing music (and the only one I wanted, iTunes, wasn't one of them). (I use the term adware above to refer to Real Advertiser which is included with virtually any PC with Windows as an OS from a manufacturer; I think the actual purpose of said program is to play video or music, albeit at really shitty quality, but I've never made it past the advertisements to find out.)
  • Pirates! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kylere ( 846597 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:54AM (#13721714)
    Now Dell is promoting piracy! Hasn't Microsoft told us that selling machines without Windows just means that people install pirated copies of their OS? :-)
  • Re:news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @09:59AM (#13721780)
    > so where is the deal?

    The 380n comes with a one-year RedHat Enterprise WS subscription.

    Maybe there's no deal because shipping a supported version of Linux isn't free, and in fact could be more expensive due to economies of scale. (XP Pro includes patch support for 5 more years at the same price).
  • Re:news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by illcare ( 635543 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:01AM (#13721795)
    I agree. One problem I have with Dell is, they usually do not apply their promotions (double memory, free LCD monitor) to their "n" series (systems with alternative OS). So during promotions, a Linux or a FreeDOS system ends up more expensive than a Windows system.

    We are an all Linux shop here. But when we buy a system from Dell, we get a Windows system, wipe the harddrive and install Linux.

  • RTFM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ross_winn ( 610552 ) * <ross.winn@gmail.cCURIEom minus physicist> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:05AM (#13721819)
    I just love that the use an ATI video card, an audigy sound card, and a Serial ATA drive. If you can pack more difficult components for linux into a single box I would be very surprised. Most distributions seem to have the USB issue under control, but the rest is laughable. The price is also out of this world.
  • by jmrSudbury ( 779091 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:06AM (#13721828)
    You can install XP onto a new pc if you have the retail version instead of the OEM version. You can only install it 3 times though, unless Microsoft changed their policy since the last time I talked with them. We had a problem with the OEM version of XP we had put onto (and activated) on a new machine. We wanted to put it onto an older machine for testing, but we could not activate it. The Rep told me on the phone that that was because it was OEM that I was limited to one install. If the hard drive died and had to be replaced under warranty, then the rep would have (and later had to) reactivate the XP on the original system. If I had bought the retail version, then I am only limited to 3 installs. We ended up finishing our testing within the 30 day limit and put the old operating system back on the old machine.
  • by Solder Fumes ( 797270 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:06AM (#13721834)
    I agree with your first point but not your second.

    I recently built a brand new system for less than the price of this new Dell ($775). It has a new nForce4 Ultra motherboard, an Athlon 64 3200+ Venice, 1GB CAS2 RAM, 250GB SATA2 hard drive, and an ATI Radeon x800 Pro VIVO 256MB. Yeah, what I put together isn't the cutting edge, but it sure makes this Dell system look like a sad sack. Sure, I already had a monitor, case, keyboard, and mouse. Who doesn't?

    As far as ATI support in Linux, I find that ATI's drivers have been pretty solid for at least the last two years. My Radeon 9500 and my x800 both work perfectly in Linux with, even with 64-bit drivers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:13AM (#13721879)

    Who would buy this machine? A inexperienced home user? They wouldn't be interested in a computer that wouldn't even start up out of the box. Business? Business would buy the equivalent Windows machine for $70 less and replace Windows with Linux (assuming that was the intended use for the FreeDOS machine). Geeks? They'd recycle an old machine or build their own.

    Who would buy this? Corporations switching to FOSS/Linux-on-the-desktop, and upgrading their PC's at the same time.

    As shown in this post: 7&cid=13721513/ [] the difference between w/Windows and wo/Windows is $30US. Now take that times, say, 200 machines in a purchase, and you've just saved Corporate $6000. (In up-front costs, Adjusting for TCO according to your own beliefs about "Windows vs. Linux TCO" is an exercise best left to the reader ;-) )

    $6000 is nothing to sneeze at. Could get you that new backup server to make your job easier. Or that new Administration suite. Or a raise for you or your whole department. Maybe a bullet-point on your resume. Political capitol with the higher-ups/bean-counters. Or, [insert personal situation here]. You get the idea.

    If you roll that into not buying the latest MS-Office suite, and instead roll out one of it's Open Source brethren, you've just saved even more.

  • Re:news? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrbcs ( 737902 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:22AM (#13721943)
    What self respecting slashdot geek calls Dell tech support?
  • Re:FreeDOS... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmack ( 197796 ) <> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:26AM (#13721971) Homepage Journal

    It's because it's really a barebones machine. There is no way Dell wants to offer tech support for Liunux, *bsd, etc because that training would cost them a fortune and the margins just aren't there. Unfortunatly they aren't allowed to sell "naked systems" because Microsoft says that encourages piracy(not true.. they just don't want you to install a competing OS). They don't really expect you to install it since it's only there so they can tell MS they aren't violating their OEM agreements.

    It's all just an end run around MS being anticompeditive since MS can't object to that without ending up back in court for Antitrust violations.

    MS pulling strings? yep.. but don't fault Dell for it

  • by jfoust2 ( 43840 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:28AM (#13721996) Homepage
    In the past year or two, a number of "hot deals" sites have featured Dell's low-end servers without pre-installed OS at nice prices in the $249-$349 range.

    I recall model numbers 400SC and SC420 among others, decent Intel motherboards that you'd otherwise find in Dell's mid- to top workstations, P4 1.8 to 2.8 Ghz, various combos of RAM and HD, some bundles with flat panels, free shipping, etc. I remember one deal for the 400SC with buy-one-get-one-free 10K 70 gig SCSI drives; another deal for dual CPU low-end servers.

    These make very nice desktops for the average business or home user - certainly they're a step above what Dell normally sells in the big ads in the consumer marketplace for roughly the same cash.

    As with many hot-deals, you'll find plenty of these units - parted out and not - on eBay. The shipping is crazy, but the overall price is often still low.
  • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:31AM (#13722027) Homepage Journal
    This touches on something I've been thinking about sending to Ask Slashdot.

    I'm sort of over the whole "building my own machine" thing. I'd like to buy a box that meets the following requirements.

    1. Doesn't include windows.
    2. Built from "standard" components. (I.e. I don't have to buy a Dell power supply if I need a replacement.)
    3. All included hardware natively supported by stable Linux. (I.e. no lame ndis wrapper. I guess I'll probably have to live with binary-only video drivers.)

    Can anybody recommend a vendor?

  • by RicktheBrick ( 588466 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:39AM (#13722112)
    It saves a step as a lot of people buy the Linux machine only to reformat the hard drive and than install a friend's copy of windows OS. Most people have a friend that knows a little about computers or they would not even consider purchasing one.
  • by EddyPearson ( 901263 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @10:48AM (#13722181) Homepage
    People commenting here seem to think that Dell owes them. Why on Earth (as some people have suggested) would Dell jeopodize their profits in order to satisfy an open source addicted minority? People have to remember, Dell are in it for one thing: making money. I'm not saying that they're little money grubbing Bill clones, hell bent on open source destruction. But at the end of the day, if you're going to sell more and make more money when your selling Windows, you're not going to put much time or energy into anything else.
  • by klubar ( 591384 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @11:15AM (#13722367) Homepage
    Except you still have to pay for the "included with purchase" copy of teh OS. The equivalent would be your local reseller offering to install Linux a box, but by the way you are required to buy a Windows operating system. With Microsoft you have the choice to buy an operating system from them or not--it's not a condition of buying the hardware.

    Apple will not sell a Mac without the OS (you or your vendor can remove it, but there isn't any discount. Several posters have pointed out that the price from Dell with and without Windows is almost the same. The same is 100% true for Apple.
  • by OwnedByTwoCats ( 124103 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @11:26AM (#13722456)
    The Federal Trade Commission got Microsoft to agree that the "per processor" licensing agreement was in restraint of trade. No penalties for prior infractions, and by changing to the completely different but functionally identical "cliff pricing" managed to continue the illegal practice.
  • No shi*t (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Main Gauche ( 881147 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @11:38AM (#13722562)
    "The cost to dell may indeed be 30 dollars, but as such the selling price should come down more than 30....What happens with most manufacturers is that they price for retail at a desireable price above Bill of Materials."

    Ah yes, the ubiquitous cost-plus pricing [].

    Who ever said this maximizes profits? In fact it usually doesn't.

    Suppose Dell is selling only two products: Computer W and Computer N, which differ only in that W has Windows, and N has no OS. Presumably, Dell would set prices (pX, pN) on those two computers to maximize profits. Anyone who has taken a sufficiently advanced economics (or pricing) course would know that the profit maxmizing prices could differ by virtually any amount. That is, pX-pN need not be $30 (the cost of Windows). In fact the difference could even be less than $30, depending on consumer preference!

    (Here's an extreme example. Suppose we finally reach Slashdot Utopia: everyone uses Linux. In such a world, Dell could not sell Computer W at any price higher than Computer N's price! pX-pN would actually be negative in this extreme example. Now this is not a realistic example, but it illustrates why "cost-plus pricing" may not be profit maximizing.)

    So why is Dell dropping the price by exactly $30? *Shrug* Probably to keep goodwill with the masses who think cost-plus pricing is somehow "fair". No math can overcome that factor.

  • Re:SHENANIGANS! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bedroll ( 806612 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @11:39AM (#13722567) Journal
    I see how you got to that conclusion. Unfortunately, I'm not really convinced, even if it's proven that XP licensing costs $30. I still believe that you are looking at nothing more than a packaging scheme that is done just to get $30 more from the mainstream customers.

    Very few customers are going to specifically look for the Open Source desktops (as a whole). Dell knows this. If you look, they started the packaging off differently for their Open Source systems than they did for their Windows ones. They actually start off being more expensive. So, since they also didn't start off with equal hardware, you changed the configurations until they matched in spec. Surprise, price difference!

    Well, you're not dealing so much with "this proves the licensing cost," as you are with "this proves that I can stretch my dollar further at McDonald's by getting a value meal." It's all about packaging. Manufacturers just as fast food companies want to reward customers for fitting a mold and making it easier for their workers to make generic things.

    Go to your local dealership and spec out a base model car with all the premium model options added, you'll find that, aside from getting wry looks from the salesman, you'll be paying a lot more. Does that prove that the NAV system that comes as an option has more licensing fees than the one in the Luxury package? No. The price difference is specifically related to the manufacturers desire not to have to custom build vehicles if they can avoid it. It's also to try to convince people that getting a little more for another chunk of money is a value. Lastly, it's to try and squeeze money from the rube who doesn't know any better.

    I tend to think that Dell is really focusing on that last point. They know that only a certain number of people will compare the two systems. How many paying customers are going to notice or care that there's a $30 difference? Especially when the base model Windows machine is cheaper.

  • by bedroll ( 806612 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:00PM (#13722746) Journal
    I'm not sure that's true anymore. Sure, Linux will run on a '486SX with 16 megs of RAM. And handle all the usual stuff like apache and sendmail. But Windows 98SE will run on that same machine and give you a GUI, and even run Microsoft Office 2000. Slowly, slowly, I'll grant you; but there's a perception about that shiny flashy graphics are somehow always easier to deal with than simple text-mode commands.

    No. Don't compare Linux of today with Windows of yesterday. Compare today's with today's and yesterday's with yesterday's. If you compare Win XP with nearly any X setup you'll find the X is more efficient.

    What eats resources is the X11 windowing system. {Though object-oriented, interpreted languages -- such as the JavaScript embedded into web browsers -- probably don't help much either.} It used to be that KDE was horribly bloated, but GNOME is no longer a lightweight alternative. Of course there are less resource-intensive desktops {my favourite, which I will be using in my own distro, is WindowMaker} but most people are expecting a Windows XP clone. Hence, KDE or a heavily-customised GNOME.

    I have a Pentium II 266 Compaq laptop that came with Windows 95 installed originally. When it was given to me it didn't work right and had been deemed useless. I brought it back to life with VectorLinux. It runs X (albeit a little slowly) and I normally use XFCE. When my wife uses it she likes IceWM, it has a Windows 95 feel to it. I know people who use full KDE on Pentium 3 600 machines with 256MB of memory, it keeps its pace with Windows easily. Besides, I wasn't even talking about old hardware. I was talking about lower end machines right for sale (new) today. The Dimension 2400 is a 2.4GHz Celeron with 256MB of memory. That will run KDE handily. That's better specs than my old P4 1.7 with 256MB memory, on it you could see a noticeable difference between KDE and Windows.

    [I know I'm taking this out of order, but I think my reply is better organized this way]
    And while I believe that is false, I also know that offering lower-spec hardware with Linux is not going to do anything to challenge that perception; in fact, it will only serve to reinforce it. Most people are clueless and just want a machine with big numbers, under the impression that it must be better {car analogy: they only care about engine cc's, not how far it will go on a litre of fuel}. You're essentially making out that a lower spec machine is only good enough for running Linux, not good enough for Windows.

    That's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying, "only offer Linux on the cheap." I'm saying: "Offer your all of your models as OS-independent, especially those that most people will be shopping for. Ohh yeah, and give the value of that Windows license back, definitively." I have no problem with Linux being looked at as more of a premium offering, but why on earth can't a whitebox pc be considered a commodity? I think it's because they don't want to be offering it; they're still charging for Windows on it; and they want to use it as an incentive for force people who want this to buy more expensive hardware. If I'm spending that much money on a PC then I am not spending it at Dell.

  • by drakaan ( 688386 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @12:31PM (#13723032) Homepage Journal
    Two things:

    One, why do I get no results searching "All of" for "e510n", but plenty when I search for "e510"

    Two, why is the e510n selling for $849, when a 3.0GHz e510 with the same hardware sells for $779?

    Truly puzzling...

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:11PM (#13723390) Journal
    Sure it would. Maybe this is some half assed deal with microsoft that allows dell to get an even greater discount on OEM licensing. I can see it now,

    BILL: hey dell, you want a bigger discount on you OS purchases?

    Dell: sure but were is the stings?

    Bill: well just offer a home brand pc running linux, offer no support for the linux and limited support for the hardware, and price it hight then the same version running our windows. Hell, if you make the user install the linux, we'll knock aniother $5 off.

    Dell: Well... OK but we want an even biger discount if you going to brag that no one want to buy them because linux is involved.

    Bill: Ok, how about another $5 off and a minimum 30% decrease before that.

    Dell: ok but we need the discounts to remain active durring the vista price defuckle.

    Bill: sure thing. lets start tomarow, just pick a computer thats not likley to run linux easily, jump the proce up and its a go. I'll start our "nobody wants linus" PR campain about a week after they're availible. Well get that firm that does our TCO analisis to make some numbers up about why they want windows. BTH you still get that discount on our improved DRM if you want it.
  • Re:news? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @04:19PM (#13724697) Homepage Journal
    The typical home user is not going to buy a computer that they can't take home, set up, turn on, and have it work.
    That makes intuitive sense.

    But as counter-example I offer this observation: Dell has been known to sell machines with MS Windows preloaded.

    Internet applications are arguably the most popular use of home computers (perhaps with some competition from word processing and games), and if you take a new MS Windows machine home and just plug in and start using it, you will suffer. Making a MS Windows machine suitable for internet use requires about as much post-purchase work (you have to obtain patch CDs, a web browser, etc, and then install all this stuff), as installing a whole other OS would.

    But I guess you can argue (fairly well, actually) that this reality, as much suffering as it leads to, nevertheless does not create a market force. Regardless of the fact that Windows requires a lot of preparation before it should be connected to a network, people still buy the machines anyway (and typically skip the preparation, thus leading to the often-heard complaint, "Why is my computer so slow, and why is my cablemodem's light flashing all the time even when I'm not doing anything?" ;-).

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!